How long will the food in my fridge last if the power goes out?

How long will the food in my fridge last if the power goes out?

Whether from a storm, a failed power line or an unpaid electric bill, we all face power outages at some point.

If the lack of electricity wasn’t enough of a headache, there’s another blow to contend with — the potential money lost and food wasted as groceries spoil in the fridge. So how long will that food last?

Not that long, says food education specialist Jillian Hicks with the Marion County Public Health Department in Indianapolis.

“Food in refrigerators should be safe as long as the power is out no more than about four to six hours,” she says. “Leave the refrigerator door closed so no cold air escapes, [which would allow] the food inside to reach unsafe temperatures.”

If the power’s out more than four hours, use a food thermometer to measure each item’s temperature. Ann Gregson, regional communicator for the American Red Cross in Indiana, says that if the food’s temperature is higher than 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and has been for more than two hours, the food isn’t safe for consumption.

Did your refrigerator stop working? Hire an appliance repair company.

Frozen food lasts longer. Hicks says a half-full freezer can keep food safe for up to 24 hours, and a full freezer lasts up to 48 hours, as long as you keep the freezer door closed for the majority of the time. If food contains ice crystals or the temperature is below 40 degrees, you can safely refreeze it.

Gregson says not to judge by appearance when determining food safety. “Some foods may look or smell fine, but they’re not,” she says. “Bacteria may have started to grow and the chance for foodborne illnesses starts. Some people think ‘let’s cook it,’ but some bacteria can’t be killed by cooking.”

Both experts have a mantra for homeowners who are unsure whether their food is safe: “When in doubt, throw it out.”


More Like This

Food and water safety tips after a storm

fridge.jpg

As long as the doors are shut, food can survive during a power outage for up to 4 hours. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Linda K. of Waukegan, Ill.)
As long as the doors are shut, food can survive during a power outage for up to 4 hours. (Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Linda K. of Waukegan, Ill.)

A major storm or weather disaster can disrupt your food and water supply. A power outage can render your refrigerator and freezer unusable while flood waters can contaminate perishable foods. Read on for food and water safety tips after a storm.

Post New Comment

Deals

What is Angie's List?

Angie’s List is the trusted site where more than 3 million households go to get ratings and reviews on everything from home repair to health care. Stop guessing when it comes to hiring! Check Angie’s List to find out who does the best work in town.

Local Discounts

Daily deals up to 70% off popular home improvement projects from top-rated contractors on Angie’s List!